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Cablegate: Canada Criticizes Iran's Arrests of Baha'i Followers

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHOT #0174 0481632
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171628Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0362
INFO ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
IRAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS OTTAWA 000174

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM IR CA
SUBJECT: CANADA CRITICIZES IRAN'S ARRESTS OF BAHA'I FOLLOWERS

REF: OTTAWA 162; STATE 12108

1. (U) In a statement on February 14, Foreign Minister Lawrence
Cannon criticized Iran for its recent detention of seven Baha'i
followers, which he called "unacceptable," as well as for other
human rights violations. He called on Iran to adopt "meaningful
change in its human rights practices." His remarks echoed a
recent expression of concern on human rights problems in Iran by
Prime Minister Stephen Harper (ref a). Full text in para 2.

2. (U) Begin text

"Canada deplores Iran's detention of seven more members of the
Iranian Baha'i community today. Alaeddin Khanjani, Ashkan Bassari,
Maria Jafari Ehsani, Bashir Ehsani, Romina Zabihiyan and Houtan
Sistani were arrested this morning. Mona Misaghi was arrested on
February 10, 2010. These individuals appear to have been detained
on the basis of their faith. This is unacceptable. We call on the
Iranian authorities to ensure the immediate and safe release of
these individuals, as well as all other members of the Baha'i
community currently in detention, without delay.

"Despite being a party to several human-rights conventions, Iran
continues to disregard the rights of its people. We urge Iran to
live up to its commitments and obligations under domestic and
international law, and to begin adopting meaningful change in its
human rights practices.

"Canada will continue to express its grave concerns regarding
Iran's history of abuse against religious minorities. For years,
the Baha'i community in particular has been targeted by the Iranian
government and subjected to persecution, discrimination and
detention, despite the community's peaceful nature. The Iranian
government has waged a systematic propaganda campaign against the
Baha'i faith, employing all forms of state-controlled media to
incite hatred and suspicion against the Baha'i."

End text
JACOBSON

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